Disgraceful absurdity
Now is the time to appeal to the international community

July 8, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

When talking about the relocation plan that has U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (USMCAS) Futenma moving to Henoko in Nago – something agreed to by both the governments of United States and Japan – Governor of Okinawa Hirokazu Nakaima stated, “I think that the feeling [that it is not possible] is the same in other regions of Okinawa as well.” His comment suggests that the two national governments will not be able to find an alternative relocation site for Futenma Air Station anywhere in the Okinawa prefecture.

We laud the governor’s bold decision to rule out the option of a fallback position of “a relocation site within Okinawa prefecture,” and we request that he devote all his energies to this historic mission of resolving the Futenma issue.

It is crucial that there be an exit strategy that brings about the return of Futenma. Governor Nakaima will visit the United States in September, so before that, we request that he fashions a carefully thought-out strategy to resolve this problem.

We consider that the agreement between the two central governments on the Futenma issue lacks democratic legitimacy. Candidates in the mayoral, gubernatorial, prefectural assembly and national elections whose stated policy was that the functions and facilities for the replacement of the Futenma should move outside the prefecture have consistently won the support of the majority of Okinawan voters. That the people’s will is denied by the decision-making processes of both governments is a malicious abuse of human rights. The Governor should bring this absurdity to the attention of the international community, including the United Nations.

Thirty nine years ago both governments were able to hand over Okinawa from U.S. military administration to the sovereignty of Japan through peaceful negotiations. In comparison with the Okinawa reversion negotiations, it should be possible for both governments to return the 480-hectare Futenma Air Station to the Okinawan people. It is a matter of political leadership. The stabilization of the U.S.-Japan relationship requires the removal of Futenma. We request that the Governor should appeal to all of the members of Congress and the U.S. government. The Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) should take advantage of information technology such as e-mail to state its case. The Governor should inform the U.S. government of the criticism from the people of the so-called “sympathy budget allocations” to U.S. bases.

Finding a solution to the Futenma issue is a crucial component of a medium and long-term strategy for eliminating all military bases from Okinawa. After the U.S.-Japan agreement concerning Futenma in 1996, the Ota Masahide OPG administration drew up “the Vision for Okinawa International City Formation” and the “Action Program for the Return of Bases” in its strategy for the future.

In those days, we witnessed changes such as the restructuring of government ministries and agencies, decentralization, deregulation, the Fifth Comprehensive National Development Plan, the Final Report of SACO (Special Action Committee on U.S.-Japan) and regional cooperation within the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference.

Okinawa is now in the midst of great upheaval in the context of its outside environment. In Japan, the Democratic Party administration is in stalemate, there is a gradual advance in local sovereignty, there is the earthquake and tsunami related disaster and the Fukushima nuclear accident. There is President Obama’s vision of a nuclear-free world, growing China’s economic and military power, the financial crisis in Japan and the U.S., and the list goes on.

The Okinawa Prefectural Government should identify the changes of the times and play an active role in implementing its desired policy of being rid of bases. For the sake of peace and stability in East Asia it is important that Japan, United States and China enter into a multi-layered dialogue. Governor Nakaima should emphasize the importance of dialogue to the world leaders. This will serve to boost the “Base Free” policy.

We want Nakaima’s visit to the United States this year to be an historic turning point in the road towards the removal of Futenma Air Station. The Governor has made it clear that he will not allow any replacement facilities for Futenma Air Station to be built within the prefecture and so now the people of Okinawa must stand united to achieve the return of Futenma.

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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